New Music Friday – Episode 24 – Vote in the poll to decide who wins a full album review!

New Music Friday is one of our favorite features on the site.  Bands seem to like it as well since it brings many eyes and ears to the music.  But here’s what is sad – far too many people just come here to boost one band or another.  Instead of enjoying the music curated for this list, people just vote for their friend.  Please, become a faithful reader of our site, and vote in this weekly feature.  It will help make the world a better place.  We promise.

Caleb Keith and the Calaveras – “Middle America”
-This song really reminds me of Bruce Springsteen. The sound is thoroughly American. It’s a chill, relaxing rock song perfect for a holiday drive. The lead vocal sounds cool and genuine. You get the sense that he’s worked a few blue collar jobs on the way to making this music dream come true. It’s good stuff.

Undercover Tide – “Stay”
-This glowing rock jam really keeps me smiling. The opening of the song is wonderfully atmospheric, but as the song really gets going it cools off for an engaging chill rock vibe. The lead vocal has this soaring, cutting quality to it. You feel like you’re listening to the chillest indie rock band in the world. The dynamics of the song contribute to the inherent relational conflict in the lyrics. It’s a perfect balance of lyrical and sonic message working to the same end.

Model Decoy – “Ciao, Knives”
-This is a handclappy pop track that puts me in the mind of something Cee Lo Green might have put out. The lyrics are fun and flowing, the beat is addictively good, and the overall composition blends nicely. I’m not sure I totally understand the title, but the song itself is about wanting to be with someone and proving your value. The uptempo pop rock sound is not what we always cover, but it works well here.

HIRIE – “Ride the Wave”
-If you’re a fan of Jack Johnson or Michael Franti, this song from HIRIE is sure to make you smile. The easy uke style is perfect for the beach. I find the track to be particularly interesting, too, because of how it using “riding the wave” as a metaphor for enduring life’s challenges. The song itself is fun and easy going, but it packs an existential punch… all punctuated with top-notch vocals.

Eric Frisch – “The Light Ahead”
-The guitar opening reminds me of Otis Redding’s iconic “Sittin on the Dock of the Bay,” then these wonderful vocals come in making me fill with some sort of deja vu for a party I’ve never actually been to. The sound seems inextricably full of joy and puts a smile on my face that feels like it could never go away. There’s a kind of Beach Boys-meets-Springsteen thing going on with this song. Anyways, it’s sure points to some hopeful light that’s for sure.

Oketo – “Like a Child”
-I wouldn’t say that saxophones are the first instrument we seek to feature on this site, but the accent horns on this track are really interesting. The song defies easy categorization. All the elements of rock are there, but it also feels a little like a jazz tune. The lyrics are delivered with a vocal style that is “unconventional” at times, but ultimately conveys a ton of raw emotion. The experimental, artsy sound is bound to be a favorite for some of our readers.

Three Cord – “Frozen Roads”
-I can’t quite put my finger on who this lead singer sounds like, but I’ll tell you this it’s great. There’s an inherent spiritual feeling to the song, almost a crying out in the wilderness to be noticed. The song works really well as an emotional, even desperate kind of song. But the sonic style is definitely folk rock including some cool electric guitar lines accented by plucky banjo work. The balance is sometimes deeply harmonic and other times a bit unsettling in just the right way. It feels real and raw.

Matthew Leeb – “Lonely Man”
-Apologies for the swear that opens the track, but this song is just too damn good to pass up on it. Leeb is a northeast Ohio guy (shout!), so when we ran across this kind of quality from the region we just had to reach out and look for more. It’s a soulful rock style that you just don’t hear all the time. I really appreciate the snazzy style as it balances with some quality lyrical work. Imagine a cool sound like Everlast with a bit more uptempo soul sound. This guy oozes cool.

Starwolf – “Mysterious Love”
-The 80s are absolutely alive and well in music today. We actually get so many submissions that sometimes I tell bands the sound is “too 80s for us.” But Starwolf are just on another level. First of all, the elements here are not gimmicky or attached; they are integral to the sound’s ethos. Aside from that, the vocal fits perfectly with the sound. The production is really great and the lyric, “there must be something in the water” even captures that perfectly cliche style of 80s music. Pure, glistening Gen-X love.

White Room – “Stole the I.V.”
-There are bands that “sound like the Beatles” and then there’s White Room. This is more than just a sounds like element. White Room are absolutely what the Beatles would sound like if they were emerging in 2016 instead of 1960. Everything from the chord progression to the band’s accents are reminiscent of the Fab 5. The full sound reminds me of late Beatles music with a deep sense of harmony and even a challenging, controversial bit of lyrical content. Perfection.

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